Peepal was a young tree rooted near the banks of the Dhara River in Champakvan. He had grown very tall in a short span of time. He had many green leaves on his broad and strong branches too. Whoever saw Peepal stopped to admire him and said, “Wow! What a strong and beautiful tree! What lovely leaves! What broad branches!”
Peepal felt proud every time he heard someone praising him.
Jamun was a tree too. He grew right next to Peepal. The two of them were good friends even though Jamun was much older.
Jamun genuinely felt happy whenever his young friend received any appreciation.
“You deserve it, my friend,” Jamun would smile and say. “You are a fine-looking tree indeed!”
When the rainy season began, small plants, creepers and shrubs started to grow under some of the bigger trees.
Some of the creepers held on to Jamun’s trunk too, since they were weak and couldn’t stand up without any support. Some small plants too felt secure under Jamun’s broad and leafy branches and began to grow under Jamun.
Peepal was very surprised when he noticed them. One day, he turned to Jamun and whispered, “Jamun, my friend. Why are you letting these useless plants grow under you? They are making you look so ugly. Look | at me! I have kept myself smart and neat. I shoo the small plants away if they try to grow under me.”
“Well, Peepal…” Jamun started to say but Peepal cut him short.
“Please don’t make excuses for these weaklings, Jamun,” Peepal said harshly. “Just get rid of them. Tell them to grow far away from you!”
Jamun kept quiet. He didn’t say a word to the small plants and creepers either, which annoyed Peepal no end.
The same evening, a storm hit the forest. Heavy rains and strong winds lashed the trees.
The river began to swell like never before. All the animals who lived near the river ran to save their lives. There was great danger for everyone who lived near the river.
All the trees and plants that grew near the river were terrified too. The heavy rainfall was making the river rise.
Jamun was worried too. His friend Peepal was in great trouble.
The soil holding Peepal’s roots was being washed away by the river water that was now flowing through the forest.
Peepal was finding it tough to hold on. And even though he was trying his very best, a strong wind blew and made him lose his balance. Peepal started to fall down.
But to his surprise, Jamun quickly stretched his branches out and saved his young friend from being uprooted completely.
The next morning, after the storm had passed by, the sun rose and lit the forest. Jamun at once turned to look at his friend.
“Are you ok, Peepal?” Jamun asked with concern. “I’ve been worried about you all night!”
“I’m fine, my friend,” Peepal said weakly. “But if it wasn’t for you, I would have surely been uprooted and washed away. Thank you for saving my life. But tell me something. How is it that you are standing tall and upright while I was almost uprooted and washed away?”
Jamun smiled and said, “Peepal, the small plants that grow under me have helped save me.”
“Is that so?” Peepal asked, looking very surprised.
“Yes,” Jamun said. “The small plants that grow under me held the soil of my roots firmly and withstood the fast flowing river water. If it wasn’t for them, my condition would have been as bad as yours. I would have been uprooted and washed away.”
Jamun then looked down and humbly thanked all the small plants who grew under him for their help.
Peepal hung his head low. He realised his mistake.
He understood that Nature had made everyone equal, no matter how great or small they appeared.
“There is place for everyone in this world. Nobody is big or small,” Jamun explained. “And so, it is best to make friends with everyone.”
Jamun’s words changed Peepal’s attitude towards the small plants and creepers.
And after a few days, Jamun saw his young friend welcoming the tiny plants that were trying to grow under his branches.